Toad's Kitchen

(mostly) healthy recipes for the family

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Mock Peking Duck (using Seitan)

I love the taste of duck, but truthfully prefer that Donald and Daisy live on to quack another day. This is an adaptation of a recipe that I found online, that uses seitan (use commercially-made or make your own, using the recipe posted on this site under “Seitan Worship”). It is yummy and as I have said before, guilt-free.

The seitan recipe I provide makes three sausages of about 7-8 ounces each, each sausage making about two servings – this recipe will serve two people.

one seitan “sausage” (about 7-8 ounces) of homemade seitan (or use commercially-made), cut into small strips
4 teaspoons dark sesame oil
4 teaspoons hoisin sauce
4 teaspoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons soy sauce (low-sodium is fine)
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
2 green onions, sliced
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
hot cooked rice, to serve two

Whisk together all ingredients except seitan and green onions, to make marinade. Mix seitan into marinade and coat completely. Let sit for at least one hour, or overnight in the refrigerator.

Preheat the broiler. Place seitan on foil-lined pan, reserving marinade. Pour remaining marinade into small saucepan and heat until warm.

Grill 4-6 inches from element until it is heated through and glazed, and just beginning to turn crispy. Be careful not to over-broil, you want the seitan to be crispy on the broiled side and chewy underneath. Plate rice and arrange broiled seitan strips on top of it. Drizzle warmed marinade over seitan, and sprinkle with green onions and toasted sesame seeds.

Quick and Easy Curry with Seitan (or without, if you wish)

I made this curry after my first attempt at making seitan. Super quick and easy to throw together, and if you prefer not to use the seitan you can certainly leave it out, or sub in shrimp, chicken, etc.

1 seitan “sausage”, cut into small strips (see the recipe I posted, or use commercially available seitan)
2 tbsp. canola oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic, minced
1 green pepper, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and cut on the diagonal
2-3 tbsp. of your favourite curry powder
1/3 cup seitan broth (or veggie broth)
a few grinds fresh ground pepper
sea salt to taste (you may not need salt if you have used the seitan broth, as it has the soy sauce in it)
1 can coconut milk
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut

Heat oil over medium-high heat in large frying pan and sauté seitan until it browns up, this takes a couple of minutes. Add onion, garlic, green pepper, and carrot, and sauté until onion starts to soften. Add broth and bring to boil. Stir in the coconut milk and tomatoes. Add the unsweetened flaked coconut.

This mixture will thicken after simmering 10-15 minutes. If it gets too thick, add a bit of broth or water.

Serve over basmati rice. Makes 2-3 helpings.

Seitan Worship…not for the gluten-free

As we shift more and more back to being vegetarians, I have decided to experiment a bit. When we were in Montréal in the summer, I had seitan for the first time in my life. To be honest, I was a bit sceptical and my expectations were not super high. We were in an amazing Thai food restaurant, ChuChai, and I should have known better by the quality of the food we had already been served – exceptional! Anyway, one of the dishes our group ordered was a spicy “duck” dish…I was enthralled. Very duck-like, without the loss of any quackers. Totally guilt-free!

Now back at home, I decided to try to make my own seitan. Seitan is also known as “mock meat”, as its texture is more meat-like than tofu and through different seasonings, it can be made to mimic most meats. Realistically, it is not exactly the same as meat, but it is a tasty, and guilt-free, alternative. It can be made using regular flour, but that process involves washing the flour repeatedly to remove the starch, leaving the gluten. The gluten, when the seitan is cooked, is what gives it the chewy, meat-like texture.

I found this excellent recipe at the Post Punk Kitchen vegan site: http://www.theppk.com/2009/11/homemade-seitan

IsaChandra’s recipe seemed to me to be the most straightforward and easy to follow. There are also many helpful suggestions in the comment section below.

I will repeat IsaChandra’s recipe below, with some suggestions following with what to do with your homemade seitan.

“1 cup vital wheat gluten flour
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 cup cold vegetable broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, pressed or grated on a microplane grater

For the simmering broth:
4 cups vegetable broth
4 cups water
1/4 cup soy sauce

Fill a stock pot with the water, broth and soy sauce, cover and bring to a boil.

In the mean time, in a large bowl mix together gluten and yeast. In a smaller bowl mix together broth, soy sauce, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic. Pour the wet into the dry and combine with a wooden spoon until most of the moisture has absorbed and partially clumped up with the dry ingredients. Use your hands and knead for about 3 minutes, until it’s an elastic dough. Divide into 3 equal pieces with a knife and then knead those pieces in your hand just to stretch them out a bit. Let rest until the broth has come to a full boil.

Once boiling, lower the heat to a simmer. Add the gluten pieces and partially cover pot so that steam can escape. Let simmer for 45 minutes, turning occasionally. Turn the heat off and take the lid off, let sit for 15 minutes.

Remove from broth and place in a strainer until it is cool enough to handle. Slice and use as desired.”

Okay, it’s me again…first of all: DON’T throw the broth away. Store your seitan in it, and use it as you would any stock/veggie broth in your recipes.

This recipe, making three seitan sausage-like pieces, will make 6 servings.

It does look a little unappetizing in its newly poached form, but for recipes you cut it into slices, cubes, etc.
Now you have made your seitan, you can use it right away or store it in your fridge – I would think storage for up to a week is a reasonable amount of time.

My first attempts at cooking it in recipes, both successes, will be posted separately.

Be brave! I am sorry I brushed it off for so long. I am not a super-huge fan of tofu (not that I dislike it, it is just never my first choice), but I do like seitan.

Pretty (and) Fresh Yellow Tomato Sauce

I spent most of today canning…I canned yesterday and will be doing so again tomorrow. I love all the fresh stuff from the garden and the farmers’ market, and want to take as much advantage of it while it is still around! I really didn’t feel like now turning around and cooking a full-on dinner…as much as I love cooking, I want a little break!

So…I looked around to see what I had…I have some crab ravioli in the freezer, which deserve a nice sauce. Something special, but easy. I continued looking…I had some pesto and some homemade ricotta in my fridge (check out my recipe!), some lovely yellow tomatoes from our garden, some garlic and onion on the counter….I think you are getting the idea 🙂

This sauce is a bit different from the usual tomato sauce in that while the taste is similar to a red tomato cream sauce, the colour is a lovely, primrose yellow with a tinge of green from the pesto. The ravioli are striped red-and-white so will look very pretty with it!

2 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 large yellow heritage tomatoes, chopped (about 500g or so)
about 3/4 cup of my ricotta cheese (my recipe has fat in it, I don’t know if low fat ricotta would be as nice in this recipe)
3 heaping tablespoons basil pesto, or to taste
liquid to wet – about 1/4 cup (I used coffee cream because I had some hanging around, but chicken broth, water, or white wine would all suffice)
good pinch sea salt
generous grind black pepper

Heat olive oil in a heavy frying pan. Saute onion and garlic a couple of minutes, until starting to soften and become translucent. Add the tomatoes, and cook for a couple of minutes. They will give off some liquid.

Now add the ricotta cheese, liquid, and pesto. Already it is starting to look interesting!

Now tip the lot into a mixing bowl, take out your trusty immersion blender and whiz it until smooth.

Replace in the pan, season to taste with salt and pepper, and heat gently as your pasta is cooking.

This took a grand total of about ten minutes to bang together…now to relax 😀

Coca-Cola Cake – sounds bizarre but very yummy

Every month or so I attend a pot luck lunch at the Comox Air Force Museum, and always try to bring something new and different for the table. I am always interested in Nigella’s concoctions and when I saw this recipe I knew I had to make it. It was a solid success, with a lot of people complimenting me on it (thank you again, Nigella!).

The addition of Coca-Cola to the batter and icing lends a bit of caramelly mellowness to the cake. Chocolate cake is normally not my choice, but this has a delicious rich texture and taste. I used to love Coke but now do not, and there is half a small bottle left in my fridge, in case anyone wants it 🙂 You don’t need much for this recipe, as you will see.

This recipe is from Nigella Lawson’s “How to Be a Domestic Goddess”

For the cake
200 g (7 oz) (1 3/4 cups) plain flour
250 g (1/2 lb) (1 1/4 cups) golden caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
125 ml (1/2 cup) buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
125 g (4 oz) (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
175 ml (3/4 cup) Coca-Cola

22-23 cm (9″) Springform, lined with foil to prevent the batter leaking, then greased

*note – Do not use anything bigger than a 9″ pan otherwise your cake will be very thin, I think an 8″ might even be better (adjust cooking time). Also, I just greased my pan, I did not line it and had no problems.

For the icing
225 g (7 oz) ( 2 14 cups) icing sugar
2 tablespoons (30g) butter
3 tablespoons (45ml) Coca-Cola
1 tablespoon (15 mL) cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 180?/gas mark 4/ 350 F and put in a baking sheet at the same time.

2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, bicarb and salt. In a measuring jug, beat the egg, buttermilk and vanilla.

3. In a heavy-based saucepan, melt the butter, cocoa and Coca-Cola, heating it gently. Pour into the dry ingredients, stir well with a wooden spoon, and then add the liquid ingredients from the jug, beating until it is well blended.

4. Pour into the prepared tin and bake on the warm sheet for 40 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

5. Leave to stand for 15 minutes in the tin before unmoulding. Then unclip, unwrap and turn out on a wire rack, making sure you’ve got a sheet of newspaper or something underneath the rack to catch any icing that drips through.

6. Sieve the icing sugar and set aside for the moment. In a heavy-based saucepan, combine the butter, Coca-Cola and cocoa and stir over a low heat until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat, add the vanilla, and spoon in the sieved icing sugar, beating as you do so, until you’ve got a good, spreadable, but still runny, icing.

7. Pour this icing over the cake, while the cake is still warm, spread gently and leave till cool before transferring to the plate on which you’re serving it.

I surrounded it with whole strawberries to add colour, and that was a popular addition 🙂

“Secret Ingredient” Drop Scones

I recently posted a recipe which I consider to be the best scone recipe I have come across. I haven’t changed my opinion, but that recipe is for the type of scone which you pat out the dough out and cut into pieces before baking.

I have discovered, through my browsing the cooking sections of my favourite online magazine app, Zite, a recipe for drop biscuits/scones which had an intriguing “secret” ingredient: mayonnaise.

At first blush, it seems kind of weird to be putting mayo into something that you may well eat with butter and jam. Well. I decided it would be worth a go, and was I impressed!

The site where I found this recipe, baking bites.com, states that their first attempt came out a bit salty, possibly due to the salt content of the mayonnaise. I did not use any salt when I baked them and they were fine, so have not included it in my version of the recipe. More importantly, though, they also state the need to use full, or higher-fat versions of milk and mayo, as it is replacing the butter.

They take about two minutes to mix, you drop them by spoonfuls onto your baking sheet and in just a few minutes you have these amazing little scones which have the most tender insides, and no mayonnaise-y taste! Crazy!

I recommend giving these a try! Super quick and so easy!

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup milk (do not use skim or low-fat)

3/4 cup mayonnaise (do not use low-fat)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Grease a baking sheet, or line it with parchment paper.

Mix dry ingredients together with spoon. Whisk milk and mayonnaise together and pour over dry ingredients. Stir until just combined. Dough will be wet and sticky.

Drop by spoonfuls onto prepared sheet. Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden. Cool slightly before eating. Makes 12 scones.

Prepared to be amazed 🙂

 

 

 

Nigella’s Italian Tray Bake, slightly amended

As anyone who reads this knows, I have a little foodie-fan crush on Chef Rob Feenie – and I have to admit to having one on Nigella Lawson, also. I love their style. Both chefs’ books show a casual, relaxed approach to preparing delicious food. Rank beginners can obtain fabulous results with their recipes!

I recently purchased Nigella’s latest book, “Nigellisima”, which is full of amazing Italian recipes to which she has given her inimitable twist. I found this recipe, and perhaps it is her influence on me, but I had to give it a little twist also. Certainly not one to alter the final result significantly, but in my opinion I think my small additions of lemon juice and garlic to the original elevated it to even greater heights, as did tossing the lot in the oil and herbs, rather than sprinkling and drizzling each over the top.

This dish is easier than falling off a log, and takes very little time to prepare. It would be equally at home at a dinner party as at a family dinner, despite its rather humble ingredients. I would suggest pairing it with a simple salad, or simply cooked veg, as the flavours in the tray bake are pretty much all you need  🙂

3 large potatoes (I used equivalent amount in new red potatoes, Nigella calls for Yukon Gold), unpeeled, cut into 1″ chunks

8 chicken thighs (bone in, skin on)

8 Italian sausages (or *quality* sausage of your choice – no greasy”breakfast” sausages! I used turkey-feta-spinach sausages)

6-7 sprigs rosemary

zest and juice of one lemon (washed)

6-8 large cloves garlic, peeled and cut into chunks

1 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/2 teaspoon table salt)

lots of ground pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place prepared potatoes, garlic, chicken and sausages in large mixing bowl.

Strip all but two or three of the sprigs of rosemary and mince the leaves finely, to get about two teaspoons’ worth of chopped rosemary. Combine rosemary leaves with the lemon zest and juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, and pour over potato/meat mixture in bowl. Toss gently to coat everything with the dressing.

Spoon this mixture (in a single layer) onto a large, shallow roasting pan (you don’t want it too deep, or it won’t brown nicely). Once you have the chicken (skin up) and sausages evenly nestled in the pan with the potatoes and garlic, tuck the two remaining sprigs of rosemary in. Using the spoon to get the last of the lemony olive oil dressing out of the mixing bowl, drizzle the chicken and sausages with the last drops. Bake for 50 minutes or so, until the chicken and sausages are golden and the potatoes are cooked through 🙂

Buon appetito!

New Year, more posts

Happy 2013! Where does time go, anyway? After my trip to Hong Kong in November, the Christmas family swirl of fun, and New Year’s celebrations, I find myself deposited unceremoniously in 2013, not having posted since before I went away.

I have a special treat for you: three posts! I hope you like them 🙂

African-ish Peanut and Sweet Potato Soup

Recipes for this soup have always intrigued me because they are such eclectic combinations of ingredients, all of which I love. Today, finding I had ingredients I could work with, I came up with this version 🙂

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 large onions, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

3 tbsp. medium curry powder (use less if your curry powder is “hot”, or to taste)

2 large orange yams, peeled and cut into 1″ chunks

4 cups vegetable broth, or low-salt chicken

1-28 oz can diced tomatoes

3/4 cup unsweetened dessicated coconut

1 teaspoon (or to taste) Asian “hot” chili-garlic condiment (or use cayenne pepper to taste)

3/4 cup *natural* peanut butter (do not use the homogenized, icky kind with icing sugar in it, use the “just peanuts” kind)

juice of one lime

1 teaspoon each salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp. chopped cilantro leaves

In large pot, heat oil and saute onions and garlic. Sprinkle curry powder over top and mix in, and fry for a couple of minutes. Add yams and fry for a couple more minutes. Add coconut, canned tomatoes (with their juice) and broth, and bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and let simmer for 20 minutes.

Once the 20 minutes has elapsed and the yams are soft, stir in the remaining ingredients. Simmer for a few minutes to blend flavours and melt peanut butter completely into soup, and serve. Yum 🙂

Oatmeal, my favourite (and Chantal’s way)

The other day I was in Costco, and I always like to check out the food demonstrators’ tables to see what is new (and copy-worthy). I was bemused to find that they now offer “pre-made” (as in you heat, presumably in a microwave) cooked steel-cut oatmeal. The popular, pre-packaged powdered abomination (the stuff in the envelopes) made by various cereal manufacturers which passes for oatmeal is bad enough – full of sugar and not a whole lot of goodness, and ridiculously expensive for what it is. This stuff at Costco actually tasted all right – there were two varieties, berry- and maple-flavoured – but worked out to about a dollar a serving. Pretty steep in my opinion, as one package was about eight bucks. I can cook a lot of steel-cut oatmeal myself for that kind of money.

Oatmeal has a bad rap, as it is often poorly presented or badly cooked. It is bland, but with a little love can make a very tasty breakfast and need not have sugar added. When I was a kid I used to load it with brown sugar and milk, which I found delicious then, but my pancreas doesn’t like it now 😉

Oatmeal comes in the aforementioned steel-cut form (which does require a little patience but for oatmeal aficionados such as myself, as it takes longer to cook, it is worth the wait) – as well as rolled, quick-cooking and Scottish versions. My favourites are rolled and Scottish (British oatmeal is cut more finely, and therefore cooks quite quickly).

I generally use slightly more than twice the amount of liquid to oatmeal – a single serving of dry oatmeal being 1/3 cup, so about 3/4 cup liquid is what I use. I much prefer to use milk over water, as it makes the cooked oatmeal more like rice pudding in consistency, and of course, you get the boost of calcium and protein.

To prepare, combine however much you are making (i.e. increase recipe amount according to the number of mouths needing oatmeal) in a pot, bring to boil, reduce heat immediately and simmer over low heat, stirring frequently, until done – about five minutes (maybe slightly longer for larger amounts). Who needs a microwave?

Now the fun part – you really don’t need sugar. My personal favourite is cinnamon (or a combination spice from Epicure called “Poudre Douce” – recommended if you can get it in your area). Sprinkle cinnamon/spice of your choice to taste, and add a couple of tablespoons each of hemp hearts (best deal is at Costco!) and ground roasted flax seed (same!), as well as a handful of almonds, blueberries or some cut-up peach, nectarine, apple or plum, or use a small handful of dried raisins or blueberries if you have nothing fresh.

Another way that I love is one that I learned from my daughter, Chantal – the addition of egg to oatmeal. You can poach the egg and add it to the cooked oatmeal, but my favourite way is to cook the oatmeal in water (the egg provides protein) until it is *almost* done (as in, very slightly runnier than you would serve it). Now, add one egg per serving and stir like crazy, continuing to cook for another minute or so. The egg cooks with the remaining liquid in the oatmeal, making a “custard”. Add a teaspoon vanilla and some cinnamon (and any or all of the additions mentioned above), and you’re done 🙂

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